Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar survived a severe Democratic challenge on Tuesday from a well-funded opponent who tried to question her national fame.
Her victory is the last in a season of victories for a new generation of encouraged progressive lawmakers.
Omar, who was up for her second term in November, easily defeated Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer and mediator who raised millions to battle her.
“Tonight our movement didn’t just win,” Omar tweeted. “We have earned a mandate for change. Despite external efforts to defeat us, we broke voter turnout records again. Despite the attacks, our support has only grown. “
Melton-Meaux used the money to paper the district and to flood the air waves with his message “Focused on the Fifth,” in which Omar was portrayed as not connected to the highly democratic fifth district in Minneapolis, which has not been a Republican since 1960 elected to Congress he admitted defeat and admitted his efforts were insufficient but declined to speculate as to why.
“I am also incredibly proud of the work we have done, which has garnered at least over 60,000 votes from the district, from people who agreed with our message of effective leadership in the district and brought people together to get things done.” Melton-Meaux told The Associated Press.
Omar became one of the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress in 2018, building on a national profile that began when the former Somali refugee was elected into Minnesota law just two years earlier. Her advocacy of liberal issues and her willingness to take on Donald Trump made her even better known.
Omar opposed the Melton-Meaux attacks, saying they were funded by interests they wanted to get out of Congress because it is effective. She also downplayed Melton-Meaux’s amazing fundraiser before the vote, saying, “Organized people will always beat organized money.”
Democratic US Senator Tina Smith and Republican challenger Jason Lewis easily won their primaries in the only statewide races on the ballot. Elsewhere in the Conservative Seventh District of western Minnesota, former Senator Michelle Fischbach won a three-way Republican race for the right to challenge Democratic Representative Collin Peterson. Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, is one of the main targets for the GOP to move a seat in the House in November.
After entering Congress with fanfare, Omar fueled controversy with comments on Israel and money that some Democrats labeled as anti-Semitic, and apologized.
After Floyd’s death, Omar supported a move by the Minneapolis City Council majority to replace the city’s police force with something new. Melton-Meaux did not support this, but did support the shift of some funds from the police to more social service-oriented programs. Both touched the subject in a personal way, with Omar saying she wanted her son to grow up safely. Melton-Meaux, who is also black, shared a personal story about being detained at the University of Virginia by police searching for an assault suspect who is reported to have run into his home.
John Hildebrand, a 47-year-old Minneapolis teacher who voted for Omar, said her national profile was beneficial.
“I think just their presence encourages other Muslims and Somalis to run for office and be represented,” he said. “I think she is getting more and more people involved in the political system.”